When I first came to Japan, while it was amazing, it was also very confusing and frustrating. The people seemed kind, but I could not understand them; the animations and dramas that I enjoyed seemed to be so passionate and well-acted, but I could not understand them; the cities and countryside hosted such amazing sights and things to do all explained by either guides or signposts; but again, I could not understand them. The point is, being unable to understand Japanese while in Japan makes being here incredibly limiting. I could meet other expats in the local bar and chat about the UK or America; I could watch TV shows and movies online with the help of streaming services; I could read fan-made translations of my favorite manga online. But it would never be the real deal. The conversations would largely be the same thing, time and time again; ultimately ending in either a rant about how Japan handles daily issues or why some other similar topic. I would be unable to watch my favorite movies and shows with a Japanese person who could not understand English. The dialogues and narratives would seem stilted and somewhat flat when translated by amateur translators as they would lack the appropriate localization and appropriation necessary for English speaking cultures. In a nut shell, in Japan, I needed Japanese.
The same can be said for anyone who wishes to venture out into the big wide world of English. English makes up a huge percentage of media; internet, movies, music, literature and stem fields all have massive amounts of content in the English language. Lets take a look at a few reasons why learning English might be the right move for you.
- The most popular movies come from Hollywood.
This is a fact that is very difficult to deny. Hollywood is one of the oldest movie studios in the world and has been consistently producing most of the top grossing movies of all time. You could argue that watching with subtitles doesn’t detract from the experience, but I would beg to differ. As an English and Japanese speaker, I can attest to the fact that subtitles are often very different from the source material. The reason may be cultural appropriation or localization but in my opinion, it colors the tone of the movie in a shade that the director didn’t intend. I believe understanding the original script and dialogue is tantamount to enjoying the experience.
- The English music industry is unfathomably huge.
English is such a successful language to produce music that artists from all over the world have been known to release albums in English instead of their native language. Some artists release an English album part way into their career in order to boost their level of fame. This is because English is one of if not the most widely spoken and understood languages in the world. Almost every genre of music can be found in English. It truly is a huge industry.
- English media dominates the web.
A massive percentage of the internet is English based. Take these figures for example, roughly 20% of the population of the world can speak English, 5% of the world’s population are native English speakers, yet 55.5% of all web content is in English. These figures are staggering. It shows the incredible influence English has on the world and how it works. No matter what you need to find, there is more than likely information about it online in English. Wikipedia alone is the largest encyclopedia to have ever existed having in English only, 6,162,065 articles of varying length.
- Most countries in the world can and often use English for business and tourism.
Imagine being able to go to almost any country in the world and there being a very high chance that someone, somewhere very nearby is an English speaker. It is extremely liberating. It takes away all of the fear of travelling to new countries and allows us to enjoy our time overseas in a multitude of ways. We might be able to make friends overseas, we might be able to haggle or barter in the deep markets of the middles east of south east Asia. The opportunities are endless. As far as business goes too, English is the de facto lingua franca of the world! It doesn’t get more attractive than that. Being an English speaker in a non-native English country is a huge point on a resume, especially when it’s backed up either skill and certification.
So, there you have it, four reasons why learning English is probably the right move for you. Now the next step is to get out there, turn on your media device, and start listening. Good luck!